PR is a bargain compared to the of advertising. Firms that maintain their visibility during tough economic times not only ensure that they will remain viable now, but also gain a competitive advantage when the economy recovers.
This is the time to communicate value and stability. Consumers are still spending, though they are more discriminate with their money. They want to know that they are receiving the most value for their dollar and that the companies they choose to do business with will be around to service their purchases.
Ifhas a long history and has survived other economic downturns, this is the time to emphasize that in your communications. If your company is young and small, emphasize your agility and the ability to make swift adjustments unburdened with the heavy bureaucracy of larger, more established firms. Using testimonials from respected customers is another way to build trust.
Internal PR is especially important during economic downturns. Keeping employees in the know will limit the “grapevine” rumors that can destroy morale and productivity. If you must impose staff cutbacks or layoffs, show your employees that you care about their well-being by providing outplacement services and eliminating perks for managers. Now is not the time for owners to buy expensive new cars or other luxuries. It sends the wrong message.
Employees are willing to make sacrifices if they believe that they are not being played for fools. Management must show that they do not consider themselves “above” employees and that everyone is on the same team.
Businesses that handle the economic downturn with sensitivity will find that their employees become loyal evangelists for their companies. Handled poorly, there is no external strategy that can overcome the negativity spread by unhappy employees, who have much more credibility than an advertising or PR campaign.
Rather than complaining about what your budget does not allow, concentrate on these windows that only open during hard times. Anything you can do to allay fear and communicate shared sacrifice will work toward your advantage.